Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Pinocchio’: First look reveals dark twist on classic tale

The Mexican filmmaker has revealed scenes from his animated stop-motion, which reimagines the 1883 story in Mussolini’s Italy

Guillermo del Toro on the set of 'Pinocchio.'
Guillermo del Toro on the set of 'Pinocchio.'

Mexican director Guillermo del Toro presented on Wednesday the first look of his animated stop-motion movie Pinocchio at the Annecy International Animation Festival in France. Audiences waited in long lines to see the first footage of the film, which is Del Toro’s animated directorial debut.

The Oscar-winning director presented eight minutes of Pinocchio, which is set to be released in December on Netflix. Del Toro said that the only reason he brought his “fat ass” to the French town from Canada, where he shot the stop-motion, was to show fans the first footage of the animated movie. The room, filled to the brim, thanked him with a standing ovation.

“Each one of you has a story to tell. You are a pioneer. Everyone has a goal. And Pinocchio is mine, one of the most important stories of my life,” said Del Toro, who also directed The Shape of Water and Pan’s Labyrinth.

Guillermo del Toro on stage at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival.
Guillermo del Toro on stage at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival.Festival de Annecy

Before revealing the scenes, Del Toro warned the audience that his Pinocchio was very different from Carlo Collodi’s 1883 classic The Adventures of Pinocchio and the Disney movie. At the Cannes Film Festival in May, Del Toro revealed that the story unfolds within the context of Benito Mussolini’s rise to power in Italy.

The character of Pinocchio appears as a tangle of branches with spidery movements, while his creator, Geppetto, has sunken eyes, instead of the rosy cheeks of the 1940 animated musical.

“It is a very personal film. There are two stories that have a very strong relationship with me and with my father, Frankenstein and Pinocchio. And both speak of the importance of disobedience, of the fragility of life and how death makes us human,” he told the audience at the Annecy International Animation Festival, adding that it had taken him 15 years to make the movie.

An image from Netflix's ‘Pinocchio.’
An image from Netflix's ‘Pinocchio.’

Del Toro said the story of Pinocchio had even influenced two of his earlier films, The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth. He shared with the audience his love of stop-motion cinema, which he described as “a form of animation perpetually on the brink of extinction.”

“When I saw King Kong [the 1993 version], I understood what it means to animate, to give a soul to something that is not alive,” he said.

With Pinocchio, Del Toro said he hopes to show that animation is not just for children. “Let’s see if they finally realize in this decade that animation is not a fucking genre,” he said to the audience, explaining that it is simply another way of making movies.

Geppeto in an image from ‘Pinocchio.’
Geppeto in an image from ‘Pinocchio.’

Pinocchio was not the only movie presented by Netflix at Annecy. The Netflix Animated Showcase also included Wendell & Wild by veteran Henry Selick. Rapper Kid Cudi also showed the first minutes of his animated music television series Entergalactic, which he described as “an analog love story in a digital world.”

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